French Government Joins Fight Against Alzheimer's
The United States isn't the only country that is beginning to marshal resources in order to fight Alzheimer's disease. In November 2007, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a five-year plan to fight the disease, which affects 860,000 French. Sarkozy committed 1.6 billion euro (or $2.4 billion) in order to establish a new foundation for Alzheimer's research designed to pool the efforts of researchers, scientists and doctors in an attempt to eradicate the disease. The French plan also will set up a network of nursing homes to help families care for loved ones who have Alzheimer's.
It is projected that 1.3 million in France will suffer from Alzheimer's by 2020; this number could reach 2.1 million by 2040. "France wants to help the fight against Alzheimer's within 10-15 years, as the disease is among those whose evolution can be staved off. In a few years, patients' suffering will be nothing like that of today and perhaps we can eradicate Alzheimer's altogether," Sarkozy said while announcing the plan.
Web in France Magazine reported that the plan will be paid for primarily from a new fee on the users of health services that took effect on January 1, 2008. French health care is free for everyone registered with social security in France, but Sarkozy believes that research needs additional funding and advocates that patients should start paying token fees to help cover the cost. Under Sarkozy's plan, patients would pay a non-refundable 0.50 euro ($0.68) per prescription drug, 0.50 euro for paramedical aid and 2 euros for medical transport, such as ambulance rides. "Alzheimer's disease is a real national drama," Sarkozy said, adding that everyone should chip in to help end the disease, especially since caring for Alzheimer's patients costs taxpayers an the government in France 10 billion euros per year.
Sarkozy's vision for defeating Alzheimer's extends beyond his own country. The president of France hopes to use the six-month French presidency of the European Union that begins in July 2008 to organize a pan-European conference on Alzheimer's disease. "To fight this illness is a challenge. It has nothing to do with left or right-wing politics. All governments over the next 30 years will be confronted by it.," Sarkozy said.